Deadline approaches for Representatives to debate House Bills

Time is running out for house bills to pass in the Texas House of Representatives.

Any house bill that isn't approved by midnight will die, unless it's added to a related bill that already passed a second reading.

“Well, we look forward to this deadline every session,” said Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin. 

The Capitol is known as the place bills in Texas become the law of the land, but more often it's a graveyard of bills that never make it to the House floor.

“Yes, it's disappointing, but there are a lot of bills and there's no way physically that we could get to all the bills that we file, nor should we,” Workman said. 

With the clock running out on the 2017 legislative session, representatives are working to get through what they can before midnight.

“I think we sent 500 bills to the Senate this last week and there's probably another 100 or so ready to go over there, so I think we got a lot of stuff through,” said Workman.  

“These are not the kind of bills we can power through, just the opposite, they take a lot of time to understand and to debate,” said Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin. 

One bill that gained a lot of attention in Texas is Senate Bill 4, also called the sanctuary cities bill. That cleared the House and the Senate and was signed into law on Sunday.

“There've been some bills that have passed though that have been harmful, SB4 comes to mind, and that has many in our community, documented and undocumented, terrified,” said Hinojosa. 

With scheduling in calendars three days behind, even those bills lawmakers expected to hear may never make it to the House floor.

“I have a great bill that we're not going to get to,” Hinojosa said. 

“I've got important bills that are not going to make it, and other members do as well, but there are other bills that got through the House and they're over in the Senate now and we'll depend on them to do their thing and get them back to us,” said Workman. 

One controversial bill that hasn't been debated by the House thus far is SB 6, the bathroom bill. Although the Senate version will likely not pass as its own legislation, representatives said it's not dead yet.
               
“I don't want to presume that we're not going to see it yet. While the bill may not be here, there are always opportunities for amendments,” Hinojosa said. 

There is one thing representatives can all agree on regardless of political affiliation.

“It's time to go home,” said Hinojosa.
One thing both chambers still need to settle is the budget. Representatives said if the Senate rejects their version, they expect the Governor to call a special session, but they're hoping that won't happen.

Texas' legislative session ends May 29.

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